Characters Discussed

Thaïs

Thaïs (THAY-ihs), a Rhodian courtesan living in Athens. She is wooed by Phaedria, whom she loves, and by Thraso, a braggart captain. Thaïs encourages Thraso’s love because she wishes him to make her a present of a young slave girl. This girl, Pamphila, had been reared as Thaïs’ sister. In fact, she is an Athenian citizen. Thaïs wants to restore the girl to Chremes, Pamphila’s brother. After Thraso gives her Pamphila, Thaïs goes to Thraso’s house. She quarrels with him and returns home to find that Pamphila has been ravished by Chaerea, who entered Thaïs’ house disguised as a eunuch. Pamphila is restored to Chremes and promised in marriage to Chaerea, who loves her. Thaïs reaffirms her love for Phaedria.

Phaedria

Phaedria (FEED-ree-uh), the son of Laches, who loves Thaïs. Hurt because Thaïs excludes him from her house while admitting Thraso, Phaedria listens to her explanation and agrees to leave Athens for two days until Thraso has given Pamphila to the courtesan. Unable to stay away so long, Phaedria returns to find that his brother Chaerea has disgraced him by attacking Pamphila.

Thraso

Thraso (THRAY-soh), a rich, pompous, and conceited soldier, a foreigner who formerly had been in the service of an Asiatic king. He is used by both Thaïs and his parasite Gnatho for their own ends. When, after being deserted by Thaïs, he asks that Pamphila be returned to him, his demand is...

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Bibliography

Forehand, Walter E. Terence. Boston: Twayne, 1985. Examines The Eunuch from the standpoint of plot, structure, and theme. Discusses the eight most important characters in the play. Includes extensive notes and an annotated bibliography.

Goldberg, Sander M. Understanding Terence. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1986. A study of the playwright. Includes an index to passages and an analysis of The Eunuch in the chapter titled “Contaminatio.” The bibliography contains numerous citations to foreign-language publications.

Hunter, R. L. The New Comedy of Greece and Rome. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1985. Sees the play as an exploration of male-female relationships. In a dramatic reversal, a woman protagonist attains power over men. The three primary male characters are also thematically important, however, since they represent various aspects of love.

Lowe, J. C. B. “The Eunuchus: Terence and Menander.” Classical Quarterly 33, no. 2 (1983): 428-444. An attempt to resolve the question of Terence’s intent by examining the ways in which he altered his source in Menander. Argues that an answer can be found in Terence’s development of two key scenes.

Sandbach, F. H. The Comic Theatre of Greece and Rome. London: Chatto & Windus, 1977. Both the chapter on Menander and the chapter on Terence include observations about The Eunuch. Discusses Terence’s alterations and additions to the works of Menander, his Greek source.